Tag Archives: albums

Friday Photo Blogging: a year in music CDs

As should be apparent already to regular readers, I get sent a lot of CDs these days. Here are just some of them:

A year in music reviewing

That’s about a third of the albums I’ve been sent to review in the last year – the third that I’m actually interested in keeping, naturally. The others will be migrating their way to second hand shops some time in the new year.

I’m quite astonished at myself, really – if you count pieces pending publication, I’ve written well over 200 pieces of music journalism in the last year. Crikey.

As the above isn’t really a very creative photograph, you can have a bonus shot from the gig I went to last Sunday (I know, I’m too good to you):

Not Advised - live at The Alma Arms, Portsmouth

That’s Ash from Southampton pop-punk band Not Advised, who is probably most unimpressed by me not only capturing a great gurning moment, but plastering it on my review of the show at The Dreaded Press.

There’s an interview with the band, too. Not my normal cup of tea, music-wise, but a damn fine live act and a lovely bunch of lads to boot.

I remember being that full of enthusiasm once – perhaps if I hang around young musicians more I’ll rediscover the secret!*

Writing about music

I’ve pre-empted some of my music hack news above, but it’s been a busy week nonetheless.

Work continues to gather for The Dreaded Press, which is great news – I’m immensely chuffed that tomorrow (at very short notice) I’m interviewing the infamous Ginger, frontman of The Wildhearts and pathological side-project creator. Which is going to be awesome.

Hey, my interview with David Yow went live, in case you didn’t notice. I’m rather pleased with it (though Morrissey’s lawyers may be less so) – here’s a teaser quote:

“That’s the thing — I can handle eating nothing but baked potatoes and baked beans for a week, if that means that every night I get to get totally f*cked up and sleep with some slut who I never met before and will never speak to again, y’know?”

There’s no slacking for me next week either – Monday sees me reviewing Minus The Bear, and later in the week I’m interviewing Benedict Hayes of Enochian Theory for The Dreaded Press.

That last one is a bit of a cheat, in that I know Ben of old (local chap, lovely fellow, very tall, Cornish, mad), but his band are doing the brave new “start your own label and go it alone” thing, and I think it’ll be interesting to talk about the hows, whys and wherefores.

Still waiting on the replies from Henry Rollins, and just entered into negotiations (read as “pleading begging emails”) to arrange an interview with Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) some time early next year.

Writing about books

Haven’t actually done any reviewing of books this week, having been instead concentrating on actually reading books instead, which has been very pleasant – I’d forgotten what it’s like to read a book by choice.

However, it appears the note-taking habit is now thoroughly ingrained … so my ARC of Stross’s Halting State is now festooned with post-it markers, as has become my tradition. I think I’ll probably review it anyway – it’s a strong novel with some good talking points, and it’s not like there’s any shortage of places to publish it.

Writing about other stuff

Also minimal. My excuse here is that I’m still doing the self-tuition thing with XHTML and CSS, which is a slower and more frustrating process than I’d like. But hey, when was learning something worth knowing ever easy, right?

Books and magazines seen

Only one confirmed literary arrival this week, namely my latest assignment for Vector in the form of Swiftly by Adam Roberts**, which I’m pleased about – Roberts is a challenging read, but that’s half the appeal for me. Although this is one of his works that bolts on to a literary classic – in this case, Gulliver’s Travels – which leaves me in a bit of a bind.

Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never actually read Gulliver’s Travels (though I know a fair bit about its content by inference). Methinks a trip to Project Gutenburg is in order if I want to do this one justice.

There may be more titles that should have arrived this week – if the “you were out” red card from the Post Office is anything to go by – but as it’s the (allegedly) festive season, I can’t go and check until tomorrow because they’re busier than usual. Selah.


Another high-velocity week has hurtled by. As much as I loathe [the holiday that shall remain nameless], I’m looking forward to having some downtime just so I can recover from what has felt like twelve months of relentless acceleration. Having discovered that my mother now has wi-fi at her house (w00t!), I should be able to finish up a lot of back-burner stuff in time for the new year.

Of course, we all know the saying about best-laid plans, so I’m not going to make any bets just yet. If I can just get some fiction writing done and develop a pre-emptive stock of Friday Flash I’ll be a happy man. Anything else will just be gravy. Mmmm. Gravy.

And talking of gravy, my tongue pines for the taste of cumin and other Eastern spices, which means I should be making tracks toward the Temple Of Culinary Delights and make my obeisance at the altar of The Friday Curry.

So have a good weekend yourselves, ladies and gents, and stay warm. Hasta luego!

[* Or get arrested on suspicion of more dubious motives, maybe.]

[** For which the rather fetching jacket art is seemingly unavailable online as yet. Sorry.]

[tags]photo, albums, CDs, music, reviews, interviews, writing, bookstores, blather[/tags]

Friday Photo Blogging: fresh growth

Part of the joy of houseplants (for me at least) is observing their slow but steady growth. Despite the paucity of sunlight we’ve had this summer, my poinsettia is still cheerfully branching off new shoots every few weeks. I’m hoping it goes properly red come the winter season.

Poinsettia Close-up

[As the above picture may suggest, I’ve not been out and about with my camera in the last week or so, as explained further down …]

Terrorist or tourist?

One of the downsides of working on a Naval Base is the occasional bomb scare, often caused by some hapless visitor leaving a rucksack on the ground and forgetting about it. Not usually a problem, but today one caused the closure of the gate I usually leave by, necessitating a somewhat longer journey home. Such are the terrible trials of life.

Dawn of the Deadlines

Other than that, this week has been fairly devoid of exciting events, I’m afraid. I was a judge for the Wedgewood Rooms Showcase again on Tuesday night (it runs over the entire summer, essentially, wrapping up with the final in October), but that’s been about it as far as leaving the house is concerned. As I mentioned earlier in the week, a whole lot of deadlines have coincided on one small patch of time, so I’ve been focusing on getting things done that need doing … hence blog silence but for the daily link-dumps.

A similar state of affairs may well persist for the next few weeks, too – I’m covering for a colleague’s holiday leave for the next fortnight, which means I’m working the equivalent of full-time hours over that period, and hence my evenings will be largely consumed with various reviewing and writing tasks that I’m committed to doing. Hopefully I’ll find time to do something more substantial here once or twice. After all, you’d be destitute without my gritty pearls of wisdom. Or something.

But hey, at least people are asking me to write things for them – and while none of them are paid work, it’s a change to be asked rather than having to hustle. And one little project may turn into paid work in the long run – a friend is involved with the start-up of a downloadable gaming magazine, and they’ve asked me to do a column on Second Life. It’s gratifying to get a chance to write about things that you know well and care about!

Books and magazines seen

A slow week, really.

One magazine, in the form of July’s F&SF – arriving three days after the issue succeeding it, naturally. Three cheers for the weirdness of transAtlantic surface mail!

And one book of a totally non-science fictional nature – I am the proud possessor of a copy of the Catalogue of Oil Paintings in Public Ownership for the Hampshire region. Because there are some pictures from the RNM listed in it, they sent us a few free copies, and one of them has ended up with me thanks to my name being plucked from the metaphorical hat.

So I have a very classy and intellectual-looking coffee-table book of prodigious size … now all I need is a coffee-table to put it on.

Albums seen

In the absence of much literary traffic in my postbox, I’ll take the time to plug a few CDs that I’m very happy to have been sent in the last week-and-a-bit:

  • Mercury by Laika Dog – Laika Dog are the current band of ex-Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright, arguably the most earnest and affable man in British rock music during the nineties. Laikadog aren’t quite so rocky as Terrorvision, but if you like Tony’s songwriting, you’ll not be disappointed by this at all.
  • High by New Model Army – New Model Army should need no introduction to anyone who’s going to be interested in this album, so suffice to say it delivers exactly what we’ve come to expect from the band over their lengthy career. Good stuff.
  • Transworld Ultra Rock by Electric Eel Shock – Japanese band who do a great tongue-in-cheek pastiche of classic Sabbath-style metal. Loads of fun, and if you ever get the chance to see them play live, rest assured you will not resent the very reasonable ticket prices. Real performers, and a great laugh.

Aaaah, free music. I wish I’d got onto the reviewing train earlier in my life, I’d have saved myself a fortune – and been far more clued up by now.


Well, that was comparatively brief and painless, wasn’t it? I always feel a bit disappointed when I have little to report on a Friday afternoon, though I don’t operate under the illusion that anyone else is that bothered. I think it just reminds me that my life isn’t really as thrilling as I might like to think … but then, that’s no one’s fault if not my own, I suppose.

Things would be simpler if the exciting stuff was more evenly distributed, but instead it appears to lurk like seams of mineral deposits in tracts of otherwise featureless stone. Selah.

Right. Friday afternoon, work and FPB done for the week – which means it’s nearly time for The Friday Curry Of Legend And Myth. I’m hoping to get enough of my writing work done over the weekend that I have time to get outside for a while, but having heard the weather reports I’m not sure if that’s going to be a wasted effort or not. Let’s hope the reports are wrong, eh?

Anyway, whatever you have planned for the weekend yourselves, I hope it goes well for you – indoors or out. Hasta luego, amigos.